The massive wooden gates slowly open and we drive into the courtyard.
My daughter, her husband, my two grandkids and I turn around and watch through our car’s windows, as the gates creak and slide closed behind us.
We’re visiting my ex-husband, Summer’s father. He has personally built and lives in a large circular concrete block house with an inner courtyard. This ‘palace’ of sorts, is situated on ten acres, in the desert. The outside of the compound consists of walls that reach to the top of the inner buildings. Inside the walls, the courtyard displays tiled surfaces and tall palm trees.
Ken’s home, I think, looks like something that might be found in the Saudi desert.
The place is a marvelous work of art in progress, but from the inside of the house and from the court yard, we notice that there is no sweeping view of the majestic desert this movie set rests on. We can’t see the spread of spiked cactus, the joshua trees, the miles and miles of sand and the imposing black shale mountain we know sits to the west. There is no view at all. We are walled in; confined much more then the hordes of pesky rabbits that plague Ken’s gardening attempts and who manage to get into the compound, somehow, as do various mountain lions, at night.
My ex-husband has his quirks. At 62 he is still a handsome, brilliant man, but those quirks were, and I imagine still are, hard to live with.
After a tour of the splendid place, I ask Ken, just because I’m nosey, “Are you still burying your money in the back yard like you used to do?”
He grins and leads us to his work room where he pulls a long plastic container off a shelf.
“My gosh, Ken,” I say. “You’re putting stuff in those? After you’re dead, your kids won’t even be able to use a metal detector to find your loot. I hope you’ve drawn a detailed map of all your land so the kids know where to dig.”
He grins some more.
Summer tells me later that there is no map.
From my past life with him, I am pretty sure that Ken has utterly no idea where his treasures are buried. If anyone thinks they might assault him and demand he start digging for gold, they would surely have to move in with the man for 10 years while the entire property is shoveled over. And, in the end, his treasures may not be what we would consider fine and useful.
Still, I envision the aftermath of his passing: Every weekend for years, or maybe into eternity, the family drives out from the big city, a good 2 hour drive, to dig up the ten acres of inter-locked spiny cactus, looking for “Bumpa Ken’s” hidden treasure.
After several hours in Adventure Land we prepare to leave Ken’s walled compound. As we walk to the car, with some ceremony, he gifts his granddaughter, four year old Lexi, with a piece from one of his desert collections; a dried and carefully shellacked mound of mountain lion poop.
This year as Father’s Day approaches, Summer instructs Lexi to make her Bumpa Ken a (Grand) Father’s Day card.
Here is the email Summer sent me about that attempt:
I asked Lexi to make my dad a card for Father’s Day as he is coming for lunch with us on Sunday.
So, Lexi drew him naked.
I said, ‘That won’t work.’
She then drew him as a hairy monster.
I said, ‘That wouldn’t be nice.’
Next, she drew him angry.
Finally, I said, ‘Draw him as a king!’
So. She drew him as a QUEEN and informed me that he is a boy who likes to wear women’s clothing!
Then, we got into an argument and she ripped all the cards to shreds.
My father won’t be getting a card from Lexi this year.”
When I tell my mother this story she says, “Lexi is a lot like you, Venus. But more so.”
Summer agrees. “Sometimes I feel like I am raising my mother. I feel like I am sandwiched in by you two on both sides.”
Lexi has four plus years of history with us now, and I have lots of astonishing and continuing stories about her behavior that I re-count to my family and friends.
At 9 1/2 weeks she verbally copied me as I said, “I love you.”
Summer and I both clearly heard her say ‘I love you’ back to me, four times.
No one else believes us, of course, but we were there.
She loves and hates with passion.
She has driven off her nanny and regularly wrestles the little boys at preschool to the ground and puts them into choke holds.
She has two boyfriends and insists that she will marry both of them and have two husbands.
Recently, in the grocery store she commented on the walnuts. “Get those BaBa. They’re good for your heart.”
An older man who heard her, came up to me, his eyes wide. “What did she say!?”
She whines, talks almost continually, has no tolerance for small frustrations and has thrashing tantrums.
But, she also says “I love you!” and “I will always love you,” and snuggles close.
A few days ago, after playing with a young girl she had just met in the park, and will most likely never see, again, she said to me, “I will always like her, forever.”
She feels great compassion for all beings.
She says, out loud, what people are thinking which throws the person involved into shock.
Lexi utterly exhausts her parents and me with her strong personality and field of quirks.
Summer says, “I look at parents now who are dealing with willful, whining, brilliant, demanding and emotional children and I no longer think, ‘What’s wrong with those parents! Why don’t they control that child.? I don’t blame them for anything, anymore. I just feel for them.”
With kids, you have probably noticed that you never know who you will get. Some kids are easy to raise, some are hard. Some are little goody-two-shoes and some are born to trouble.
Because of what The Beings have told me, I believe that people come the way they are to experience a particular ‘life’ as God wants it to be. And, keep in mind that all of us are the One Being. We are all God experiencing and expressing, so how can we blame another, (who is us in other forms!) for perceived faults or strangeness? If we do, we point the finger at ourselves.
Life with ourselves and others is easier if we keep in mind the words of the Beings. “Accept Your Nature.”
Even with all it’s quirks.
I’m personally finding it’s best to accept everyone’s nature. Including my own. That acceptance cuts down on a lot of worthless stress, worry and judgement and opens the world up to lots of comical interest.
Like with Lexi. And, with her grandfather and his quirks.
Because of Lexi’s quixotic nature, Summer and I are getting to practice non-judgement and acceptance of an unusual nature, every day.
It helps us to see it that way. It even makes it fun.
(And, who said we were ‘normal’?)